Trains Are Fun? Sexy, Even?


What's your favorite train tale? Or train-focused film?

When researching an overnight journey from Paris to Rome I came across a convincing Night Train From Hell admonition. This especially got me: "There's a point in an adult's life when second class is not worth it." Well! Wanting to feel like a grown-up, I sought a first class ticket at the SCNF office, but was too late and would have to share my couchette with five strangers. Luckily, they were all charming: a young Italian woman working in Versailles, a brother and sister pair from the Paris suburbs (he in high school, reading Sartre and speaking Russian!), a young Florentine in French military school, and a bubbly older Italian woman. We shared our food stocks, and laughed and talked in four different languages. Finally, the sister offered a cup of sleep-inducing herbal tea from her thermos, we converted our seats to beds, and I put in ear plugs, read a bit, and drifted off. After a solid eight hours of sleep, and freshening up in the clean WC, we pulled into sunny Roma. Lovely.

Later, on the journey from Rome to Switzerland, I met a handsome stranger. For real!He helped with my bags as I switched onto a new train in Milan, and ended up assigned to the seat diagonal from me in our quad. I found myself stealing glances at his curly, black hair, and ridiculous blue/green eyes. After nearly everyone disembarked in Como, my Voltaic solar backpack broke the ice. He turned out to be from Basque Country, and an aspiring industrial designer in a sustainable design program in Turin. The rest of the journey became a too-short combination of intense, though somewhat language-inhibited, exchanges about eco-topics and awe at the stunning peak and lake views we met at the end of each tunnel.

Yes, I did fly to Europe in the first place, but while there wanted to keep the transit choices as eco as possible. In neither case did forgoing the discount airline options to reduce carbon output feel like a sacrifice. In fact, in second class, I felt like quite a responsible grown-up. And despite past arguments that we don't need random men to make train travel worthwhile, who wouldn't advocate the good, old-fashioned chance meeting? ::

Tags: Paris

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